Downsizing RVs: From Big Fifth Wheel to Small Class C Motorhome

We thought things couldn’t get any better than living full-time in our beautiful Heartland Landmark fifth wheel. However, our decision of downsizing RVs allows us more nomadic adventures! And, our much smaller RV gives us access to places we could have never fit with our fifth wheel. While yes, we do miss the comforts of our former fifth wheel, downsizing RVs gives us many more opportunities to explore and visit off-the-beaten-path places in our tiny Winnebago View Class C motorhome.

Always On Liberty - Downsizing RVs - Fifth Wheel to Class C Motorhome

This article contains affiliate links. By clicking on them, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Full disclosure here.

Downsizing RVs: From 42′ Fifth Wheel to 25′ Class C Motorhome

For over six years, we enjoyed fifth wheel living. But because its’ size, we were hindered by places we could park or camp. We were restricted to traveling only the main roads and highways. With that, we missed a lot of America’s hidden treasures via the backroads. 

When we released our 2019 big reveal video, we were surprised by the amazing support of us downsizing our RV. And then, we were faced with a slew of questions that we felt we owed you, our readers and followers why we downsized so significantly.

Downsizing RVs from our big rig fifth wheel to our tiny Class C motorhome didn’t happen overnight. Nor was this decision to downsize an easy contemplation. In fact, it took a whole year from inception of the idea of downsizing RVs to actually signing papers on our new 25′ Winnebago View.

Before I go into why we chose to downsize, I’ll tell you a little about our fifth wheel.

Our Fifth Wheel: 2016 Heartland Landmark 365

Always On Liberty Landmark 365 fifth wheel

Prior in late 2016, we traded in our Heartland 44′ Cyclone toy hauler in for our Heartland Landmark 365 in late 2016. The reason for downsizing but upgrading was due to us selling our two Harley Davidson motorcycles and seeking new adventures. 

From stem to stern, our Landmark 365 “Ashland” model was 41′ 6″ to be exact. But we always rounded off to 42′ in length. The 365 in the Landmark 365 is Heartland’s identifier deeming it a full-time RV for warranty and insurance purposes. 

Our Fifth Wheel Upgrades and Modifications

Always On Liberty - Fifth Wheel Energy Management System

We also made our fifth wheel more boondocking capable. Our laundry list of upgrades and modifications to our fifth wheel enabled us to stay off the grid longer as well as improved efficiency and comfort.

Customizing our fifth wheel interior

Landmark Fifth Wheel Makeover

Through the years of living in our fifth wheel, we completed several upgrades; making her more ‘ours’.

Since we work remotely, our need for an actual office was the first on the list. So, we removed the uncomfortable sleeper sofa (sold it); replacing it with a large table desk and two chairs. We, then ended up going all out with a complete interior makeover of our fifth wheel.

Always On Liberty Fifth Wheel Workspace

We personalized first by painting the interior, updating the flooring, and adding a unique backsplash. Finally, we focused on brightening the interior with some colorful accents and fun accessories. Our interior finishings gave that Margarita Key West vibe! It didn’t look like your typical RV inside. It was bright and beautiful with turquoise, aqua, lime green, melon orange and watermelon red! It was even featured in Battle Born Batteries’ commercial.

The Elephant in the Room

Since our solar panels and energy management system upgrades, we found ourselves boondocking off grid more. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes, we just want to find a comfortable RV park or campground with hookups to enjoy air conditioning, long hot showers and cooking using all of my small kitchen appliances.

Even some of the places we yearned to boondock were inaccessible because our RV was just too big. We also experienced some space constraints at many Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome and even our friends or family’s driveways or land.

And lastly, when we were destined to visit certain landmarks or more touristy places, finding places to park our big fifth wheel became a challenge. Especially on the east coast, older campgrounds could barely accommodate or have enough spaces for big rig RVs like ours.

Our big fifth wheel became that elephant in the room. So, we both agreed we needed to change things up a bit. 

Time to look into downsizing our RV

We started noticing some of our fellow RV nomads who were facing similar issues. They too, were downsizing to smaller travel trailers, truck campers, vans and smaller motorhomes.

Once we decided to downsize, we looked at every possible RV type out there. Since we are full-time RVers, we had to come to terms that our new smaller RV still needed the comforts of home. I mean, this is our home.

After a bit of research, some options we had considered simply would not work for us.

RV Downsizing Options

Small(er) Fifth Wheel

We love the spacious interior floor plans and storage concepts of the fifth wheels. However, even if we downsized to a smaller 5th wheel, we’d still have a large RV footprint when including our big Ram 3500.

And, as we experience while towing our two former fifth wheels, our dually was not an ideal vehicle for city touring. There were times we’d either have to forgo city slicking, rent a small car or use Uber or Lyft to get around.

Small(er) Travel Trailer

There are some amazing travel trailer floor plans on the market now. But we really didn’t want to deal with towing lightweight trailers.

And like the fifth wheel, we still would need ample space in front of the trailer to hitch thus requiring a longer site and space to hook and unhook.

Also, we didn’t want to trade our Ram 3500 in for a different truck simply because that truck would have been a bit of overkill for the job. 

Truck Camper

We seriously were looking into truck campers. Some of the most recent models have stunning living quarters.

However, as it seemed like a cool concept, it simply wasn’t going to work for our full-time RVing. One of us couldn’t really ride in the camper while the other drove. Others may do it; it just wasn’t for us. Just the whole thought of sitting high and feeling like we’d tip over wasn’t my idea of fun.

And let’s not forget our two traveling feline companions. The floor space in truck campers is so minimal as it is. They would not be happy getting their tails constantly stepped on. And, where would we put their kitty litter box, their food and water dishes?

But still, we’d have our big dual wheel Ram that we still wouldn’t be able to travel or park in high traffic locations.

Van

You’ve probably noticed van life has taken RVing by storm. We considered how great it would be that we could literally park anywhere. It would be so easy to moochdock in any of our family, friend’s and shipmate’s driveways without their HOA’s getting their panties in a wad. And, we probably could even stealth camp without anyone really know we were even living in it.

But, hold your horses! There was absolutely no plausible way we were going to deal with a wet bath and eating a can of whatever every meal because the kitchens were just…so…small.

And, though the whole van down by the river may work for someit would never work for us and our two Maine Coon cats. We need just a tad bit more space to live and still like each other at the end of each day.

Class A or Class C Motorhome

Seriously, the motorhome option was highest on our list. But we agreed to only look at motorized RV’s that are less than 27′. Why 27′ you ask?

Because it would still fit into National Park, State Park, and other smaller campgrounds. But also, for driving, mobility and comfort.

We had a few other requirements and expectations though. The motorhome had to have a Diesel engine, diesel generator, a decent size kitchen, dry bath and a queen size bed.

And lastly, the height profile had to be much shorter than our previous fifth wheel’s 13′ 4″. One of the purposes of downsizing our RV was to be able to travel the backroads which sometimes, that means we’d encounter low overpasses or tunnels.

But most of all, we wanted the instant mobility of literally jumping in the driver’s seat and turning the key. We wanted the mobility of a small motorhome but not have to sacrifice build quality and amenities. And, of course, a comfortable vehicle for our traveling kitties.

Networking with Like-Minded RVers

While we were deeply involved in researching our next RV, we reached out to our  RV friends, Dan and Lindsay of Follow Your Detour, who own a small Class C Winnebago View.

Without appearing as stalkers, we followed their travels and how they dealt with living full-time in their 25′ motorhome with their two dogs. We were most interested in the amazing places their little RV was taking them and the places they parked.

Follow Your Detour Dan & Lindsay Winnebago View
Photo courtesy of Follow Your Detour

When reaching out with many questions, I’m sure she understood the answers we were looking for weren’t going to be found on any forums, brochures or websites. We wanted to hear from real-world experiences. Having personally met Lindsay on the road, I knew we could trust her insight and opinions.

So, after sifting through our many pages of notes, we finally came to an amicable decision!

Our new Home…on Wheels!!

Always On Liberty - 2019 Winnebago View 24D

We were now on full throttle after downsizing from our RV fifth wheel Landmark for a new 2019 Winnebago View. 

Our Winnebago View is considered a Compact Class C Motorhome. She measures 25′ 8″ from stem to stern and height of 11′. It’s built on a Mercedes Benz chassis, has full-body paint and came equipped with a fuel-efficient Cummins Onan diesel generator.

It also came with two 100-watt flex solar panels. It is also equipped with a Magnum 1000 inverter; same as what was in our fifth wheel.

Our Mini Moho (what we call it now) features a large 36 inch depth full wall slide that accommodates our  dinette seating and table and an electric-powered Murphy bed with euro style design support system. Our refrigerator is a 12volt electric that runs off the our house batteries.

Check out our Winnebago View TOUR!

Any planned RV upgrades?

Now that we’ve downsized our RV, of course we’re making a list of RV upgrades and modifications.

We’ve already installed four of our six Battle Born lithium batteries from our fifth wheel into our Winnebago View. Soon, we will be installing more efficient solar panels and upgrade to a better and more efficient energy management system. And if we decide to get a toad, we’ll research what the best motorhome tow bar setup will be.

AOL - Battle Born Batteries Banner

We also will be looking into upgrading our Class C motorhome’s suspension and leveling system. And, down the road, we will personalize our RV interior just like we did with our fifth wheel.

Toad or No Toad?

Lastly, we’ve been asked several times about if we will opt for a toad for our second vehicle. Right now, our plan is to get acquainted with our Mini Moho. It’s a lot to take in; transitioning from a fifth wheel to a motorized RV. We are acclimating to the whole tiny living and minimalism. Because, that’s exactly what it is….tiny. But eventually, we’ll no doubt, get a vehicle to tow or Jeep for exploring.

Here’s a great article on motorhome towing: Motorhome With a Toad Vehicle? Pros vs. Cons

AOL - View HH

Wrapping up downsizing RVs and why we did it

As I write this, we are relaxing at a Harvest Host winery in northwestern Pennsylvania and are enjoying our newfound mobility. We’re only two weeks into ownership and we’re really digging be able to ride in our RV with our kitties! By downsizing our RV has actually supersized our dreams and adventures!

Learning more about the 2019 Winnebago View 24D?

DISCLOSURE: This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

 

 

 

16 Replies to “Downsizing RVs: From Big Fifth Wheel to Small Class C Motorhome”

  1. Congratulations on Little Liberty, the small trend is really taking off and i get it. That is why we chose a smaller 5th wheel. we are 28ft and light enough for a 3/4 ton single wheel truck that just fits our style. As much as the thought of smaller sounds so amazing we still we made the right choice for us which isn’t this what this whole thing is about. Maybe at some later point we may progress or digress (see what i did there lol) to a smaller rig we are right were we need to be at this moment. With all that said we can’t wait to see where this new smaller you takes you guys. I know how much you two like the out of the way, off the beaten path spots and now you can reach them. Safe travels and happy boon-dock spot hunting to you.

    1. Hi Nathan and Tessie, you are so right! RV life to each is a personal thing and never do we want to say one is better than the other except to ourselves. Your 5er is just the perfect size too, it sounds like. You can still park in National Parks and small places yet still have your tow vehicle to go play in the cities and explore. Thank you so much for following our adventures. We love to share our ideas, places we go, campgrounds and things we do so others out there can too! Safe travels and hope to catch up soon! -Lisa & Dan

  2. I’ll have to come back when on the computer instead of my phone so I can see the pictures and links, but this appears to be a GREAT decision. It really does come down to balancing needs with desires (and bank account). Happy Trails!

  3. We bought our 40′ 5th wheel in Feb. of 2018 and have been dreaming about downsizing recently as well. I absolutely LOVE our rig, but truly miss the ability to get into smaller places. Winnebago is at the top of our list as well – just doing more research before officially pulling the trigger. Never got the change to meet you at the NomadFest, but hope to meet you down the road someday!!

    https://www.facebook.com/ditchedthekids

    1. Hi Ann, its good to see others who truly ‘get it’ on why we did this. We’ll meet soon. We attend a lot of the Xscapers events in the winter. Looking forward to meeting you sometime soon. Safe travels! -Lisa & Dan

  4. Can’t wait for you to bring Little Liberty to the Vineyard. Plenty of flat space to park at the farm, which is only 1 1/2 miles from here — I can walk to work in 30 minutes on Conservation footpaths. We’ll be back in October, staying through May for the next 3 years.

    1. Well hello there, Pam! Great to see you again. We’d love to visit next summer if all goes to plan. We’ll have to get ferry costs and such but to be able to come visit you on the Vineyard would be priceless! We can’t wait!! Love to you and the Doctor! Miss you both! -Lisa & Dan

  5. Awesome! Now we know it can be done. We struggle with what to start our RV lifestyle in after we retire early in a few years (or work from the road). I think we have settled on something just a few feet more than yours, but as we see you doing it, we are inspired!! Go, go, go! We’ll be there in just a couple years!

    1. Hi Shelly! Can’t wait for you to get out there to experience the freedom of the road! We hope you stay tuned to our helpful RV life information as we post them. Keep downsizing so its not so hard when your big moment comes! -Lisa and Dan

  6. It sounds Great…… we are looking to downsize only we need a washer/dryer so can’t go your size, but going to get out of our Big Country and F350…..we will keep up with you guys and Little Liberty.

    1. Thanks Phil and Linda! We missed seeing you at the Heartland Rally this year. As you know it was our last. But hopefully, we see you guys on the road. On another note, we have lived without a washer and dryer for 5+ years, so whats another 50? LOL. Thanks for following us. It means a lot to us to have you reading our stuff. -Lisa & Dan

  7. I LOVED reading this!! I am going to have my husband read it too!. I had contacted you on IG about going smaller with a Class C from a fifth wheel. Although I love our little 30 foot fifth. Perfect size. Looking forward to reading more on your Little Liberty and adventures!

    1. Thank you for following along, Christy. Its been quite an adjustment. We really are put to the test as far as appreciating what we really need vs. what we don’t. Its a process but in the end, once we really get on the road to freedom in this View, it will be amazing!! -Lisa & Dan

  8. Thanks for the detailed story. Since you have been on the road longer than we have and you mentioned your need for wifi I’m hoping you can recommend the best way to have wifi available while fulltiming on the road.
    I’ve looked at so many options it’s overwhelmings.
    Daphne and John
    Fulltimers in a 27′ Minnie Winnie.
    And I thought we were living large in a tiny home.
    Good luck with your new home.

    1. Thank you for reading, Daphne! We have one jetpack and phone through Verizon and one hotspot and phone through AT&T. That way, we have coverage wherever we go. Sometimes one is hotter than the other. We also utilize coffee shops and libraries as well for uploading videos, downloading Netflix for later viewing, etc. Hope that helps! Safe travels! -Lisa & Dan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *